Merchant ship numbering

Discussion in 'War at Sea' started by Brigsy, Jul 15, 2017.

  1. Brigsy

    Brigsy Member

    Hi,

    I am trying to identify the 6 ships from Convoy KMS7G which transported the 24th Res MT Companies (later 347 GT Company) vehicles and equipment from the Clyde to Algiers in January 1943.

    The Company War Diary quotes the ships only as H111, H114, H116, H117, H120 & H121 but unfortunately does not provide any names. I do have the names of the 23 ships from the convoy which docked in Algiers but have been unable to narrow it down any further.

    My Fathers unit later moved to Italy and whilst he travelled in LCI (L)103, their vehicles and equipment travelled in Convoy AH4, the War Diary this time noting the vessels as being HH23 - SS Jacob H Gallinger and HH25 - SS Fridtjof Nansen.
    This numbering is further emphasized by an extract from my Uncles 93 Squadron ORB which states only that the Squadron personnel travelled in ship P114. I know from talking to him that he travelled aboard the SS Bergensfjord in Convoy KMF3 whose cruising position was 23 (taken from Convoyweb) so what is P114?

    Can anyone shed any light on this numbering system?

    Many thanks,

    David.
     
  2. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Well-Known Member

    CL1 likes this.
  3. Brigsy

    Brigsy Member

    Hi TD,

    Sorry for the delay in responding, have been away on holiday.

    Many thanks for the link but I have already been down that avenue. CONVOYWEB database has been very useful as a starting point but has required a lot of further work to sort out the actual numbers of ships involved and the routings and it does not have any reference to the individual ship numbering system that I am struggling with.

    CONVOYWEB has a total of 63 ships listed for this convoy but when you look closer it is much more complicated that at first sight. 52 ships left the Clyde of which 3 returned and 2 detached to Lisbon leaving 47 to arrive in Gibraltar. 12 more detached in Gib joining TE14 reducing the number further to 35. KMS7G was then joined by 1 from KMS6G, 8 from KX8 (ex Milford Haven) and 1 (possibly 2) from TMF1 making 45 (or 46) to continue to North Africa. 1 was sunk en route so 44 (or 45) arrived of the coast of North Africa where they docked at various ports. The oddball one is the Vanja, ex TMF1 which I have been unable to confirm and may or may not have joined KMS7G, it is in any case a Tanker so is of no interest to me for the purposes of this investigation.
    I am only interested in the freighters which docked in Algiers of which there were 23 as previously stated but I can not match any of them to the numbers H111, H114, H116, H117, H120 & H121 found in the Company War Diary.

    Hopefully someone out there will have the answer to the mystery numbers,

    Many thanks for your response,

    David
     
  4. 379/101 HAA

    379/101 HAA Ubique

    David,

    Your only real hope is probably what you can dig out of the National Archives at Kew on the convoys you`re interested in and see if they contain any tie-ups. I had the same issues with a convoy I was researching and had to go to Kew eventually and copy all the convoy reports, even then it`s not a simple task.

    As you`re probably aware, each convoy allocated mercantile ships with an individual code letter such as HMT. G1, HMT.G2 etc. This was for security reason and R/T procedures as they obviously didn`t want to give away a vessel`s name in "the clear". Also for reasons of security, every convoy allocated these numbers randomly so for instance in the next one that sailed the vessels might be HMT. E1, HMT. E2 and so on. I`m assuming that your H111, H1114, etc. are based on this procedure. The escorts were also allocated numbers such as D1. D2 etc.

    Searching through the Convoy reports, reports of proceedings (if they exist), sometimes shows tie-ups between the vessel`s name and it`s unique number. Sometimes they are also listed on the Convoy sailing order form A.1, but not often because obviously the sailing order went on each ship.

    I had a quick look in the National Archive Database and it looks a bit sparse on some of your convoys. I couldn`t find a specific reference to KMS 7G but it may well be buried in one of these:

    K.M.S., M.K.S., W.S., O.S. and S.L. convoys: reports | The National Archives

    S.L., K.M.S. and M.K.S. convoys: reports | The National Archives

    S.L., K.M.S. and M.K.S. convoys: reports | The National Archives

    K.M.S., M.K.S., W.S., O.S. and S.L. convoys: reports | The National Archives

    I guess you`ve also tried this section on the Convoy website?

    Arnold Hague Ports database

    I haven`t looked into it closely but I think KMS.7G arrived in Algiers 21.01.43. When you put that port and date into the search engine it shows a list of vessels arriving as part of KMS.7G. You can click on the name of each vessel and see it`s route to Algiers and one would assume you can exclude those that joined via Gib` etc. as it would seem logic that the ships you`re intrested in would sail direct from the Clyde. That might whittle the list down a little towards identifying H111, H114, H116, H117, H120 & H121. Then perhaps you could look at the remaining vessels and see if any could be eliminated on the grounds they were not the correct sort of vessel? I don`t know, it`s all a bit hypothetical but I do know you have to think out of the box with these things sometimes.

    I hope some of this helps in some small way.

    John
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2017 at 9:31 PM

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